True Love Waits

Sex has been on my mind a lot lately.

Singleness, too, but more so, sex.

As a divorced Christian woman, I don’t know how I feel about it anymore. And since sex – along with divorce – is a taboo topic, I want to fling wide those gates.

I was raised a Christian since birth and grew up in a predominantly conservative church. I gave my life to Jesus/was born again/became heaven-bound/got saved/whatever-you-want-to-call-it at the tender age of eight. My formative years were spent twice a week or more in youth group. I learned the horrors of abortion, drugs, premarital sex, listening to the wrong kind of music and what would happen to me if I didn’t accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior before the campfire wore down to a mere glow.

I was shown live abortion videos, documentaries on backmasking (Beware! If you play a song backwards it becomes Satanic!) and a 1970’s film depicting the end times entitled A Thief in the Night. I knew all the statistics on teen pregnancy, listened to drug addicts’ testimonies and watched my peers around me fall, one-by-one, making mistakes.

I decided I didn’t want to mess up. I didn’t want to be shamed in front of the congregation for having sex, becoming pregnant or addicted to drugs. I definitely didn’t want to violently kill a baby, invite Satan into my life by listening to the Beatles or end up left behind at the Rapture.

So I obeyed the rules. It really wasn’t all that hard. I didn’t have druggie friends, and I certainly didn’t have any guys banging down my door, trying to impregnate me. Plus, I was terrified of the consequences. I was taught if I broke the rules, I would not receive God’s blessing. Furthermore, I believed in my heart if I messed up – especially sexually – I would alter my life’s course and might even miss out on the person God intended as my husband.

At 15 years old, I signed a contract called “True Love Waits.” It went something like this:

Believing that True Love Waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until I enter a Biblical marriage relationship.

After high school, I attended a Christian college and signed another contract stating I would not drink, smoke, gamble, do or sell drugs, dance or have sex.

I obeyed the rules. It really wasn’t all that hard. Except (gasp!) I drank and smoked a little during a junior year semester abroad, and I definitely danced. I didn’t gyrate my pelvis towards or up against anyone else’s, but I moved pretty well.

I saved gyrating my pelvis for my wedding night, and, in a dimly lit, fairly standard room at a Hilton Hotel by the airport, I lost my virginity to my husband. I was 23 years old.

And I sighed relief, because I made it. I had remained pure. Mind you, I practically crawled to the purity finish line after a two-year engagement, but I was finally free to enjoy sex and reap the benefits of my obedience to God during my youth.

I was set. For life.

Beyond the betrayal, shock and horror of discovering my husband’s infidelities almost ten years later, imagine my disappointment and fear of being thrust (pun intended) back into the big, scary world of dating. I was no longer a virgin. My True Love Waits contract was invalid, but not by my choice. To me, there was no longer such terminology as premarital sex. It was postmarital.

It simply wasn’t fair. My obedience delivered nothing but pain and disappointment.

*****

I have been searching for real, honest answers about sex and singlehood for several years now. In a way, I am still very much the deer-in-the-headlights young woman who is afraid to make mistakes. At the same time, sex and sexuality no longer intimidates me. I am a wildly sexual being. It’s how I was created. That is not to say I cannot exercise self-control. Rather than repress my feelings and desires out of fear, I am learning to express them in a healthy way.

But I’m single. I’m not supposed to have sex outside of marriage.

My no-nonsense, straightforward, brilliant-yet-humble pastor Dr. Timothy Keller delivered a short talk at church a few months ago called “A Theology of Singleness.” His message basically stated that, although we idolize marriage and family in all cultures, singleness is truly a gift. It’s okay if we don’t have a spouse or family right now. We will have all we desire in the future – in heaven. I am still processing that concept. It is nothing like what I was taught, growing up. You find a partner, get married, have sex and kids and your life as a Christian is instantly gratified and maintains purpose. Right?

In fact, it made me think back to my 15-year-old self, signing in bubbly cursive my name on the dotted line of my True Love Waits contract. I autographed that for my future spouse and children, didn’t I?

Wrong and no.

There is no Biblical guarantee I will ever marry or have children. I hope I am finally grasping the reality that all the deepest desires I have for love, acceptance, unity, security, confidence and closure can only be satisfied in the arms of Jesus.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Keller delivers another valid point.

“If singles learn to rest and rejoice in their marriage to Christ, that means they will be able to handle single life without the devastating sense of being unfulfilled and unformed. And they might as well tackle this project right away. Why? Because the same idolatry of marriage that is distorting their single lives will eventually distort their married lives if they find a partner. So, there’s no reason to wait. Demote marriage and family in your heart, put God first and begin to enjoy the goodness of single life.”

*****

But what about sex, baby?

A few mornings ago I typed the words, “Christianity and sex” into my computer’s search engine. One of the first things that popped up was Ten Reasons Not to Have Sex Outside Marriage.

I read the article and began to swear, loudly and profusely.

To be fair, some of the reasons promoting abstinence were spot-on. For example, “We will be emotionally and physically healthier.” Why, yes, dynamic single person, this is true. You won’t need to worry about herpes or genital warts, nor will you be checking your phone every hour after your one-night stand, hoping the guy actually liked you for you, instead of his conquest of your vagina after a round of drinks.

Other reasons made me grimace.

Reason #2 – We Won’t Miss Out on the Blessing of the Wedding Night
There’s something very special about a couple’s first time. In this physical act the two become one flesh. Yet it is more than just physical oneness — a spiritual union takes place. God planned for this exclusive experience of discovery and pleasure to happen only within the intimacy of marriage. If we don’t wait, we miss out on a very special blessing from God.

I’m not going to argue against the specialness of a couple’s wedding night or the very Biblical fact that sex (the way God intends it) is spiritually unique; uniting. But WHAT IS THIS SPECIAL BLESSING FROM GOD? Extra orgasms? Fireworks? A supernatural ability to be über limber? Who guarantees it?!!! When does it happen? How does it happen? Did Solomon get 700 blessings on his 700 wedding nights because he had 700 wives?

I waited to have sex until my wedding night. Thirty minutes later, I was eating a cheeseburger at Carl’s Jr. I suppose you could call that a special blessing. Add a little bacon on top, and it’s a hashtag blessing.

Reason #10 – We Won’t Settle For Less Than God’s Perfect Will
When we choose to have sex outside of marriage, we settle for less than God’s perfect will — for ourselves and for our partner. And if we do this, we don’t know what we might end up with. Perhaps we’ll end up in a miserable marriage.

So, here’s some food for thought: If your partner wants sex before marriage, consider this as a warning sign about their spiritual condition. If you are the one who wants sex before marriage, consider this as a warning sign of your own spiritual condition.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????

This is the kind of fucking horse shit I was taught as a wide-eyed and closed-legged teenager: that I, alone, will be able to alter God’s will for my life. Are you kidding me? If I had that kind of power, why would I would need God? Furthermore, Marvel Comics would have to start a new superhero series, starring me, “Lusty Spinster.”

…we don’t know what we might end up with. Perhaps we’ll end up in a miserable marriage.

Lady, let me tell you something. I saved myself for marriage and I was SHOCKED at what I ended up with: a lying, cheating, adulterous-turned-bigamist husband. How’s that for a miserable marriage?

If your partner wants sex before marriage, consider this as a warning sign about their spiritual condition. If you are the one who wants sex before marriage, consider this a warning sign of your own spiritual condition.

WE ARE HUMAN. HUMANS want sex. Our spiritual condition is HUMAN. H-U-M-A-N. I actually would consider it a warning sign if someone I were dating didn’t want sex before marriage.

*****

What’s the answer?

I really don’t know. I have always said I am not here to provide answers, just experience. I also do not regard myself a theologian. It seems to me, however, it’s much easier for a married person to stand and preach against intercourse/fornication/coitus whatever-you-want-to-call-it from his or her soapbox or pulpit because (s)he may not be struggling with the same longing/desires/hormones as singles do.

I know, because I was once that person.

Too, just because a person is married does not mean he or she does not have similar struggles, or struggles at all.

Therefore, I feebly offer you Five Reasons This 36-Year-Old Divorcee Wants to Abstain from Sex…Right Now.

1.  The Bible Tells Me So.

Not that God wants to steal all my fun. It’s for my own good, probably among the other reasons I will list below. Still, God is reckless with His grace. And grace is a blessing, unlike any other. Definitely better than a cheeseburger.

I must again say – unapologetically – I no longer have the answer about waiting to have sex until I’m married. I have been married. I have had sex. The “specialness” of being a virgin is long gone, and quite frankly, I am relieved.

Sex has fallen from its pedestal where the Church and my young, impressionable mind placed it. Life has taught me obedience to the rules does not guarantee a single thing. Grace has wrapped its loving arms around me and given me yet another chance.

I’m not trying to pick and choose which aspects of Christianity I like and want to apply to myself, but what about people like me who have found ourselves in situations we didn’t choose? I didn’t want sex with anyone besides my husband, but neither of us have that choice anymore; a result of our brokenness. I cannot go back and undo my virginity any more than I can undo my husband’s cheating.

Honestly, right now, if presented with a decent partner who was committed and loved me (and I him), I cannot say I would wait until marriage to have sex. I know the downside, too. If you engage in pre or post-marital sex, you’re not going to be struck by a lightning bolt. But you take a huge risk in getting your heart broken, again and again.

Sex is that powerful. Dammit.

2.  Disease.

I don’t want STDs. An alarmingly high percentage of the population carries HPV or other sexually transmitted disease. I’d rather remain the small percentage that doesn’t. So, if and when presented with a potential sex partner, I want to know what creepy critters might be lurking up in there.

3.  My Heart. 

I have a huge heart and a ridiculous capacity to love, again and again. I am guilty of getting too attached, too quickly, even after kissing a man. But what is more dangerous is the bond that arises from a sexual experience. Hormones are flying about and can be mistaken for the L word. I don’t know how dudes do it, but they can separate sex and feelings. I can’t. I want to know a man truly, deeply loves me before he – well — truly, deeply, physically loves me. Furthermore, if I don’t let him all the way into my pants, I have a good shot at spending way less time crying over him when we break up.

4.  Self-Respect/Trust.

Dating sucks. Most guys will give up on you after a short while if you don’t sleep with them. When did this become a thing? I would imagine it would be even more jarring if I slept with a guy on the sixth date, only to find out he isn’t all that into me on the seventh. Not to mention, “Hi, I barely know you, but let’s get naked and try to please one another by fumbling around and doing awkward, funny things that make strange noises and emit bodily fluids.”

I have to trust someone with my heart and my body.

5.  True Love Waits.

Aaaaand, I threw up in my mouth a little bit typing that phrase again, but the concept is pretty solid. A man who is willing to take things slow is relationship material. A man who is willing to allow feelings to develop first and wait to have sex is worth it. A man who respects the power of sex itself is probably pretty self-aware. A man who exhibits self-control is likely to be less self-centered.

Our culture is one of immediacy: Please me NOW. Give me what I want NOW. Imagine all the things we miss out on when we expedite the process. When it comes to sex, it is so much better with foreplay. And I consider abstinence – until the time is right – major foreplay.

All in all, I do believe sex is a physical expression of love; a spilling-over of emotions that cannot be verbalized. It is beautiful and lovely and I hope to experience it again to its fullest, in this lifetime.

At the right time.

16 thoughts on “True Love Waits

  1. Matt says:

    Male in his early 30’s here…… Imagine my surprise to be typing a comment on this blog! After feeling a little despondent over the women I’ve been meeting in church circles, I googled “christian divorced female in 30’s who likes tattoos and loves Jesus ” and somehow got to reading an entry about a neck tattoo. I read a few more chapters before and after and realised that you put so eloquently/bluntly a story similar to mine, so I have been continuing to read. I know I’m not your target audience, but thank you.

  2. sherrie2 says:

    My friend told me about your blog, at the time three years ago now and she would always tell me how amazing it is to read. I wasn’ t ready three years ago to face the divorce, the post dating, the sex before marraige or sex in general. I wasn’ t mature enough. But reading your post today has revived me it has given me hope and reassurence. I am not angel and have slipped and fallen many times trying to follow the rules specially in the area of sex before marriage. You have explained it eloqeuntly, with no judgement and God is good and most importantly he is gracious with me and opened my eyes.

  3. Laura says:

    I am just like you, except a little younger. I followed all the rules, too. And I was screwed over. I waited till marriage, married a young man who said he wanted to be a Southern Baptist pastor, went to seminary with him, and put him through a four year M.Div. I followed the rules. A week after graduation, he told me he had an affair. I found out more infidelities later. Now, I am a born-again Christian who has always believed in the sanctity of marriage who is getting a divorce at 26. True Love Waits … I waited, but I didn’t get true love. It sucks, doesn’t it? Thank you for helping me feel like I’m not alone.

  4. Barb says:

    Bravo Divorced Christian Girl! Let’s pull down religion over the taboo sex topic and make it reality for singles – esp. divorced Christians! At first, I was wondering where you were going with this but – bang – you are so right on the mark about the truth of abstaining from sex until it is right.

  5. Heather says:

    The conversation you have inspired here is REAL. Your writing and the authentic voice of YOU refreshes me. Married, single or somewhere in between, any person raised Christian Kid feels this deeply. You are a blazing light, friend.

  6. Carol says:

    Oh my gosh, thank you both (commenter and christiangirl) for all of this. If I may share… I am 33 and still single, as in never married, even though I’ve wanted to be for pretty much as long as I can remember. My story is not like either of yours in that I was not. at. all. strong or serious about purity as a teen (lost my virginity at 18 to a guy that I wanted to like me, and repeated that pattern a couple times) or young 20-something (had a longtime boyfriend who I thought I would marry and who I most definitely enjoyed sex with, up until the time that God strongly convicted my heart of my sin). Thankfully I broke up with him, a non-believer who I would have been miserable with, and graciously the Lord helped me heal and seek Him and His love for the next 7ish years of my singlehood. I dated throughout that time, and while I wanted to have sex again (with my husband), there wasn’t any particular guy in there who I particularly wanted to have sex WITH. Thankfully.

    Enter “T”. Mature, seemingly godly, GORGEOUS man T. Who I began dating. Who liked me a lot. Who I then began to like a lot. Who then wanted to have sex with me. All of a sudden, I wanted to have sex with him (in order to get him to love me? Because I liked feeling desired and wanted? I’m not fully sure). So I did. And now I am suffering… Because of reasons 1, 3, 4 and 5 above. Sex is really that powerful, damnit. I am struggling to feel God’s grace even though I’ve repented and cried my heart out multiple times. T is not The One, and here I am, back where I started almost 8 years ago.

    Anyways, I’m sitting here feeling hopeless, and both of your stories helped me see God’s hand and work in my life… And while it’s not pretty, in fact it’s ridiculously messy and ugly, His hand is not gone, and I am still His. I am thinking of the words in Isaiah 43 that Indelible Grace sings:
    When you walk through the fire, you’ll not be burned
    And the flames will not consume you
    So do not fear, for I have redeemed you
    I have called you by name, you are mine

    I feel like there are a lot of things that I fear, especially that I’ve messed up to the point that I’ll end up alone my whole life. But I am His. And that is not alone, it is truly loved.

  7. I love, love, love, love, love that I found this. This is the driving thought/worry in my head right now – not because I have found someone that wants to have sex with me, but because I really, really hope that I get to find one some day! As horrible as it sounds out loud, sex was my favorite part of being married, and therefore the most painful part of his leaving me. Now, in my mid-thirties I’m single for the first time since I was 15, and I have no idea how to handle it, especially because I’m trying to repair the damage that being married to a pretend Christian did to my faith.

  8. This is beautiful, and heart-breaking and relatable and a page out of my life. Thank you for you honesty and transparency. This is such a hard topic to swallow because it brings wounds that run so deep. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Monty says:

    Good article, was very deep and from the heart… it makes you real and human though. i could feel the author was disappointed and somewhat exhausted by living the ‘Christian’ way.

  10. SGJ says:

    This article made me howl! Total spot on and true – and timely, too. OK…I’ll park the raging, frustrated hormones for a (long) while for all the excellent reasons you listed. Love this blog!

  11. Alexandra says:

    Bless you for this, and for Fr. Don White for posting it on FB.
    The theology is sound, its tender-hearted but REAL. Thank you for a blueprint back to purity/waiting/focusing on Him
    #focusingonHimnothim

  12. Vik Jonathan says:

    Great post. May your heart overflow with gladness some day soon. May God and your future love sing loudly and joyfully over you.

  13. Bri says:

    Interesting article with some good points. I still come back to sex was designed for the safety and union of marriage… But even as I type that I know there are no guarantees… And there is obviously nothing “safe” aboht marriage… But I guess marriage as God intended has sex as God intended.

    I think, though, it’s important to know that men cannot separate feelings and sex and that is a long held stereotype and belief that turns men into sex animals and women into these emotionally stable (or weak, depending on the perpetuator of this) creatures who value sex in a deeper way. Maybe some men can, but I would say that is more rooted in their brokenness than anything else. I know when I am separating sex and feelings – get in their hubby I have needs now! – I am being selfish and often driven by physical desire beyond caring about his needs wants or desires. I am capable of this in marriage, so I assume I would be if it was just dating. Sometimes, women just want sex – it feels amazing and relaxes you and many other fun things. I think we need to recognize men and women are more similar than different, even when it comes to sex, maybe especially… As I think these old stereotypes have damaged many a persons perceptions of their spouse, of the opposite sex, or even of their own.

  14. Spam says:

    Reading your blog, especially this one, has been like reading a page from my own journal. I too was raised in a conservative church, and taught to follow blindly and not ask questions…but when something like divorce happens, and everything you’ve been taught to believe just sort of crumbles…well…there are questions. Usually along the lines of “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME???”
    I’m a couple of years into my new life as a single mom/person. I still struggle with whether or not it was the right decision. I didn’t have a husband who cheated. I had one who never wanted to have sex. With anyone. Ever. And it wasn’t something that could be worked on, or talked about, or dealt with. It left me feeling awful, unattractive, depressed, anxious, and like there was something majorly wrong with me.
    I too signed that true love waits contract as a naive young woman. I remained a virgin until my wedding night. I did all the things I was supposed to do…and then he didn’t want me. I stayed with him for eight years, seven of which he refused to touch me. So after my divorce was final, I pretty much said “f&@k it! And proceeded to sleep with the first guy I dated…and the two after him. Not good choices, for all the reasons listed in your blog, and so many more. Not to mention the fact that I could not find a way to reconcile sex outside marriage with my Christian faith.
    The problem was, after a marriage like mine, a person has some pretty warped views. I needed to feel desired and attractive, because the person who was supposed to make feel that way had long since checked out. And instead of looking for fulfillment where I ought to, I convinced myself that sex was what I needed, consequences be damned!
    Enter grace…that wonderful blessing that no one deserves, but is lavished on the multitudes. It did not come in the form of condemnation, or overwhelming guilt. Just a strong conviction, and a gentle reminder, that all I was looking for could be found in Him. Since coming to that realization I have benched myself from the dating world. I have learned that I’m not super great at saying no, or stopping things before they go too far. So instead I just don’t put myself in that situation. I’m really learning to guard and protect my heart, and to entrust it only to the one who deserves that trust. I know it sounds cheesy, and I’m ok with it.
    A very wise woman I met just briefly said something that impacted my life in a way she will never know. ” you don’t have to fear the worst, if you’ve lived through it. Because you go through it, and you keep breathing, and you’re ok.” There have been a lot of “worsts” in my life, but I’ve learned…the really super hard way….that I am ok.

    • Absolutely beautiful and honest. Yes. You. This.

      It’s great.

      I agree with the wise woman you met. The amazing thing about being shat upon and having your world crumble around you is that you begin to question your faith, which brings you to crisis, which then ultimately brings you to some sort of resolution. And when we resolve that God is the ultimate desire of our hearts (I, too, sound cheesy) — only then can we know we will be ok. We can survive anything.

      Thank you. Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad I’m not alone, either. 🙂

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